Vicarious trauma is a term in the psychological literature that has historically been used to talk about the negative impact on those in the helping profession who are exposed to others’ trauma. Think of first responders, therapists, EMTs, etc.
But it can just as easily be applied to the negative impact on folx when their social media blows up with stories of people who look like them being targeted, legislated against, or murdered.
I see this a lot in working with trans clients. Although social media has offered an incredible platform to find community and share information and resources, it also amplifies the impact of the loss of each trans person that is shared or talked about.
And now we are seeing it on an unprecedented scale for the Black community. Although it is important to share information and keep informed, it can also be incredibly disheartening, aggravating, and demoralizing to see the constant violence against black and brown bodies, to hear the racist rhetoric, and to have the validity of their experience questioned. All of this is traumatizing to the community and potentially to each Black person who is exposed to it.
Please keep this in mind for self-care for yourself, and becoming trauma-informed in how you walk about and think about this type of violence and the movement on social media.